Fort Benning

3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team prepares for four weeks of training in California deserts

For the first time since the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division returned from Iraq in 2010, the Fort Benning-based brigade is deploying to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

The training, which starts at the end of this month, will provide about 4,000 soldiers with four weeks to hone their skills in the southern California desert.

“We are definitely prepared to go anywhere,” said Maj. Alex Rivera, a brigade planner. “We are excited about what we call the fun stuff, to go out there and do the type of training we all joined the Army to do.”

Maj. Ellis Gales Jr., brigade spokesman, said crews have started loading equipment at Fort Benning rails for the nearly 2,100 mile trip to California.

Rivera described the training as hybrid, combining what was learned over the years in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It is like the old ways but with the current wars we have been fighting, it’s a little bit of all of that,” Rivera said. “It hasn’t been done in over 10 years, so it’s a lot of skill sets that have disappeared from the Army that we are returning to.”

Training will give soldiers a chance to focus on threats from criminals, terrorists or any aspect of an unknown enemy.

“If you remember the Gulf War, that form of conflict didn’t have the environment we had in the last 10 years,” Rivera said. “If you combined those two operations, you get kind of an idea what kind of training we will be doing at the National Training Center.”

Planning for the trip has been a challenge, incorporating elements from the armor and artillery community in maneuver operations.

“These are things as a brigade we just haven’t done much training,” Rivera said.

Going to the desert gives soldiers a chance to enter an environment with no distractions to conduct training. Skills practiced at the training center will be watched by Army leaders for potential in the organization.

The brigade has been preparing for the trip since June.

“It is huge,” Rivera said.